Archive for November, 2008
Yesterday was Meg’s 29th birthday. Or as I like to call it, her Almost 30 birthday.
As you can see she is not particularly fond of that title. Still, Meg will never turn down a Helfer’s cake no matter what the icing may say.
Given that her previous two birthdays included a visit to the beach, I knew that this year would be a bit of letdown. So instead we kept it pretty low key; we went out for a nice Italian dinner with her folks.
Nothing says a St. Louis birthday like cold weather and heavy food.
So enjoy the last of your twenties while you still can, darling, because payback is coming in a short 364 days. Love you!
Last year at this time I wrote my first Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht list as a way to give thanks to all the things that bring me joy and the few things that bring me sweet anger. I have decided to make this a yearly tradition, so please join me in:
Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht: Petty Officer Edition
The Money & The Power – Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht
Why did this show get an Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht? Because it is the most entertaining and horrible show I’ve ever seen. It makes Rock Of Love look like Masterpiece Theatre.
First, the good. The show dares to ask the question “What would The Apprentice be like with 1/10th the budget and with 50 Cent replacing Donald Trump?” The answer is hilarious. For example, instead of “You’re fired,” the tag line is “Get the fuck out.” That 50 sure does have a way with words. Plus he reads and shit.
The show mostly consists of 50 Cent pretending to know a lot about finance and investment while wearing Steve Harvey suits , and 12 fame-whores trying to impress him. By far my favorite contestant is Cornbreadd, with two Ds, the Houston rapper.
The show also features two teams competing in bizarre challenges with no discernable connection to business and a very underwhelming set built in an abandoned warehouse. Why MTV decided to green light a show called The Power and the Money about a guy with no real power and then put no money into said show is beyond me. The result is comical, yet very hard to watch. Meg and I have yet to make it all the way through an episode.
The show garnered a Nicht Nicht for one specific reason: I’m convinced that 50 Cent is single handedly trying to negate all of the progress that Barack Obama has made recently. I think this show has the potential to set the Civil Rights Movement back by a couple of years. This show features so many blatant stereotypes and so much open racism that I am convinced that there must be a nefarious reason it exists.
Chuck Klosterman – Ach, Ja
This man never ceases to amaze me. I just finished his first actual novel, and I absolutely loved it. His ability to transcribe inner monologues onto the written page is unparalleled. While Chuck is primarily known for writing essays, his style translated perfectly into his debut work of fiction.
Downtown Owl develops around three characters in a small town, but the novel is more about the interactions of small town life. Nothing I say will really do his writings justice, so instead you check out a different sample of his style. Here is a very recent review Chuck wrote about Chinese Democracy, where he hilariously compares reviewing the album to a reviewing a Unicorn. Spot on.
Long Dead Bands Putting Out New Music – Nicht Nicht
Speaking of Chinese Democracy, WTF!?! Apparently the album is finally out in stores. Say it ain’t so!
First off, when one member of a five-piece band records an album featuring none of the other four members, I believe it should be referred to as a side-project or a solo album.
Second, who thinks this was a good idea? An egomaniacal asshole spends fifteen years in the studio, fires everyone he’s ever worked with, misses countless deadlines, and finally decided to release the album on a Sunday, and only at Best Buy?1
And speaking of bad ideas, word is that Paul McCartney is moving forward to release from the vault a fifteen-minute-never-heard-avant-garde-Beatles-song ? Macca must be stopped!
Look, I have no problem with bands reuniting to play old songs. The Pixies showed how wonderful this can be back in 2004. Just recently, My Bloody Valentine played a triumphant reunion show after a fifteen year break. And best of all, this month Jane’s Addiction played two shows in LA with all four original members. That is extremely exciting!
The important thing to note here is that these bands all just stuck with their original songs and didn’t try and write any new material. New songs from old bands are universally a bad idea. The only way a band can continue to release quality tunes is if they never brake up in the first place. Bands have to evolve into a new sound, not take a decade-or-two break and then start again from scratch. I certainly hope this trend stops soon, but let’s just say I’m less than optimistic…
Fallout 3 – Ach, Ja
This game has taken up quite a bit of my free time lately, and it’s easy to see why. I’m not gonna nerd-out and gush about the kick-assattuide of this game; instead I will just sum up why I like said game. It’s basically a mix of my two favorite video-game series, Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil, but set in an apocalyptic Washington D.C. If you’re into video games and would like to hear more, just ask and I’ll give you an earful of dweebness.
Missouri Voters – Nicht Nicht
Like many other people in 2004, I knew Missouri would go for Bush. This time around, I had no idea who would win and neither did anyone else. We were the only state that Five Thirty Eight wouldn’t call; they correctly called 48 of the other 49.
I went to bed late on election nite not knowing which way Missouri swung. After a massive recount that lasted a few weeks the results confirmed what I originally feared: Missouri went for McCain. After choosing correctly in 25 of the past 26 presidential elections, we are no longer a bell weather state . Granted, McCain won by less than 4,000 votes out of the almost 3 million cast. But still, I am a bit disappointed in Missouri voters for essentially choosing this.2
I thought that Missouri would move past the rural-vs.-city mentality that has dominated state politics over the last decade. But a quick look at the presidential election results shows that not much has changed.
Perhaps the most surprising result to me is that the democratic candidate for Governor, Jay Nixon, beat the Republican by almost 20%, yet Obama still lost. 20% of Missouri voters picked Nixon and McCain!?! That seems a bit odd. I guess that means that many Republicans in the state did not vote straight-ticket this year, which is a cause for celebration. Still, I think that probably has more to do with the universally-terrible job our first-term Republican Governor, Matt Blunt, during his four years in office.
Steve Martin On 30 Rock – Ach, Ja
I’ve been a huge fan of Steve Martin since I was a kid. But over the last decade, I’ve slowly been pulling away. He is still capable of comedy greatness, but it seems to happen less and less as his career progresses. For every Bowfinger like achievement, there are two Pink Panthers or Cheaper By The Dozens failures.
Last week’s 30 Rock episode was a triumphant and long overdo return to form. His zany persona fit perfectly into an already kooky/witty show full of ringers.
Four More Months Of Winter – Nicht Nicht
Last February I discovered just how unaccustomed my body was to cold weather. After a month in St. Louis, I was ready for the mildness of Florida. What I failed to realize is that in Missouri there is no end to the cold for quite some time. While my body can adjust to short term cold, I am in no way ready for a prolonged period of cold. It’s not gonna be warm again until freakin’ April! That’s four more months of dry-skin, chapped lips, heavy coats and shivering. Is it too late to move back to Florida?
White Boy Cornrows – Nicht Nicht
Two of my previous Nicht Nichts prominently feature a white boy sporting cornrows, and I feel the need to condemn this practice. Axl Rose has been rocking a terrible head full of cornrows for most of this decade. And now one of the contestants, Ryan, on The Power And The Money also has a set of these terrible locks.
This needs to be stopped. I know that white boys have been co-opting black culture for decades now, but this is too much.
Oscar Season – Ach, Ja
One of the only good things about winter is the massive release of the Oscar bait movies that occurs around the new year. 2008 looks to have quite a strong showing, and will feature films by three of my favorite directors. Danny Boyle of Trainspotting fame is releasing Slumdog Millionaire.
Darren Aronofsky, director of one of my absolute favorites films The Fountain, is releasing The Wrestler
These three men have an amazing body of work between them. Hopefully their films will add to their status much like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood did for the Cohens and PT Anderson last year.
The Road – Nicht Nicht
Speaking of movies that I am looking forward to, The Road is at the top of the list. Meg and I read the book last winter and absolutely loved it. Why then the Nicht Nicht?
The movie was supposed to be released in time for the Oscars this year, but has since been pushed back indefinably. It sucks that I will have to wait longer to see the film, but that’s not why I am upset. The pushback probably indicates that there are major problems with the finished product, and likely means the film will have to undergo revisions. This has destroyed many a good film in the past, and I really hope that it does not happen to a story with so much potential.
The Mainstreaming Of My High School Outcast Tendencies – Nicht Nicht
Back in the glorious mid-90s, I was known throughout my high school for a number of things. I was primarily identified by my peers for either my eccentric alternativey/gothey style or my association with the theatre department. This cemented my status as the most visible outcast in the school.
Nowadays this would apparently make me virtually indistinguishable from most of my high school peers. I know I will not be the first or the last person to complain about this, but seriously WTF? When did dressing dark/kooky and joining the theatre department become mainstream? I was reminded on a daily basis how uncool this was back when I was in school.
I could go on and on about the ridiculousness of this “outsiders are the new insiders” trend and complain non-stop about the blatant co-option of the rebellion image, but it’s all been said before. The only thing left to do at this point is laugh, which has recently been remarkably easier thanks to the last two episodes of South Park.
The parody of the High School Musical films was pretty spot-on, but last week’s Goths vs. Vampires episode was perfect. Damn I love the South Park goth kids. The scene with them drinking coffee at the all night diner was the funniest thing I’ve seen in quite a while.3
Hats – Ach, Ja
Not to sound stupid, but I kinda forgot that hats can provide warmth to my head. I’ve been walking around for the past two weeks thinking about ways to warm myself up, and a hat simply did not occur to me. Which is funny since I own a great many hats.
For the past three years, I’ve primarily used hats to either cover-up my messy hair, show my allegiance for a particular sports team, or to indicate that I am piloting a boat. Warmth never entered the equation. Well, no more. With four more months of cold weather, it looks like it’s gonna be a hat kinda winter.
The Petty Officer
1 Actually, Universal released the album. Much like Paramount releasing the new Indiana Jones movie, it points to the effects of corporatization of the entertainment industry. This will result in many more new/crappy versions of beloved classics.
2 I was also highly disappointed that St. Louis voted down the expansion of our light-rail system, but I figured that would probably happen. We’ve been voting down mass-transit for decades.
3 And major bonus points for the “Burning Down The Hot Topic” gothic tune that plays in the back ground during the episode.
While I do miss my Captain moniker, this is not what I referring to in the title. I miss actually navigating a boat. It has been a year since I have driven a boat, and I miss it so.
Two years ago this week I made one of the best decisions of my life; I responded to a Craigslist ad selling a membership to Freedom Boat Club. After years of claiming to be a Captain, I seized the opportunity to actually become the real thing.
While I had been driving boats on and off for about six years at that point, it hardly qualified as real Captain’s work.1 Learning to drive a 20’ boat in the Gulf of Mexico was extremely challenging. I spent three months being trained how to read a nautical map, how to understand the tides, how to read waterway markings, how to identify shallow water, etc. The work was fairly difficult but extremely rewarding; I loved every minute of it.
All of my training and practice really paid off. It enabled me to truly make 2007 The Year of the Captain. The climax of the year was at the last October during the wedding weekend. I was able to take most of my friends and family out for a little cruise in the Gulf. It was arguably the defining moment in my ascendance towards Captainhood.
After the wedding and honeymoon I managed to spend two more afternoons out on the water. We returned to Sarasota last year for Megan’s birthday to take the boat out one more time around Sarasota Bay, a victory lap if you will. I also made a trip with Megs to Destin and took a solo trip around the area. And how fitting is it that my last boat trip was included in my first post-wedding entry here at the quarters.
It has been a year since I last don the Captain’s helm legitimately, and look at me now. I have been landlocked and reduced to a mere petty officer. How appropriate. So I salute you Captain, for all of the hard work and all of the good times. You are sorely missed.
The Petty Officer
1 Learning to drive other people’s boats on small lakes in Missouri was like studying for a driver’s license exam on go-karts; it mostly consisted of driving at slow speeds in a circle while trying not to hit the edges.
My recent demotion has reprioritized my duties here at the quarters. Accordingly, I’ve decided to include some updates regarding previous tasks I have undertaken.
First up is The Hair Growth Challenge . As you may recall, back in August I started taking Propecia to combat my male pattern baldness. I’ve officially been on the drug for three month and thus far the results have been mixed. At first I felt absolutely nothing.
After about a month the tingling began. I awoke one morning to find a mild tingling sensation all over my scalp. This continued every morning for about four days. I don’t really know how to describe the feeling, the best I can do is equate it to the gentleman in the shower from the old Denorex commercials.
Since that week I haven’t felt any additional tingling. As far as a visible difference, I have yet to notice any change. Meg says she can tell a slight difference, but I think her wifely duties require her to say something to that effect. Seeing as I shouldn’t expect to see any effects for 6-12 months, I’ll stay patient. Besides, as long as there are no flipper babies I should be good.1
Next up you may notice a new button on the side bar that was added today. With the holidays just around the corner, I have again posted a link to an Amazon wish list. I’ve created a wish list the past couple of years mainly for family members struggling with X-mas gift ideas for me. The only reason I’m bringing this up is because my mom has recently started visiting this site, and I thought this would be helpful for her. But anyone can feel free to purchase anything on the list for me. Wink.
Speaking of wish lists, another one of my challenges is being held up due to logistics. My Carlsberg Taste Test Challenge started with a bang back in June, and has since come to a grinding halt. I’ve have been unable to locate any of the other five brands of Carlsberg. So anyone who know a good specialty beer importer please give me a heads-up.
Finally, I’m sad to report that the Year of Focus has thus far been less than successful. Maybe I should rename it the Year of Trying to Focus, because that’s how it has gone. Life has been pulling me in many different directions this year, and I’ve been struggling to hold everything together. I’ve had a hard time keeping my footing in 2008; the ground keeps changing underneath me.
I don’t want to make it sound like this year has been a disaster. Far from it. I have been able to make several positive changes this year, and I’ve enjoyed myself overall. 2008 has been a good year thus far, just not the one that I envisioned. To that end, I have decided to spend the rest of my Year of Focus concentrating on securing more stable footing. Hopefully my efforts will put me in a great position to begin 2009 on the right path.
The Petty Officer
1 Well, there have been a few flipper babies…
That’s right, I’ve officially been demoted. For the next month I will be referred to as “Petty Officer.” I have lost my rank.
My demotion started out as a friendly rivalry. A while back I decided to trash talk a bit about my Grand Theft Auto IV skills . My buddy Chris decided to put me in my place by decimating me during GTA online play. This was quite embarrassing, and managed to awaken my usually dormant competitive side.
I enacted my revenge at my surprise birthday party . A healthy competition developed between Chris and I that evening that resulted in me besting him and his wife at bowling. Being the level headed fellow that I am, I seized the opportunity to talk more trash about my superior skills. This apparently brought out Chris’ competitive side.
We squared off again a couple of weeks ago, this time around the poker table. While I certainly am not an expert at poker, I usually do well enough as not to embarrass myself.
Needless to say, this plan backfired.1
The rivalry culminated this past weekend back at Flamingo Bowl. This time around, Chris was throwing rocks and I couldn’t pick-up a spare to save my life. He bested me by 30 points and made it look easy.
Before the game we made a friendly wager involving this blog. Had he lost, he would have had to submit a letter praising the superior skills of the Captain and his Quarters. Unfortunately, he was victorious.2
So as per the terms of the wager, for the next month all of my online monikers will be changed from Captain to Petty Officer. Chris was even nice enough to provide me with a demoted email address .
While I may be bested for the time being, remember this: Revenge is petty, and I am now an Officer.
The Petty Officer
1 While Chris wasn’t the big winner, I was definitely the big loser.
2 Even though Meg and I trounced Chris and Jen at Cranium a few hours later, bowling was the only victory that ultimately mattered.